When Paul addressed his disciple, Timothy, he reminded him of the strong heritage he had in his Christian mother and grandmother. When he speaks to Titus, he is addressing a first-generation believer. He came from a purely pagan family and had to face the alienation that this would most likely have caused him. Paul, on the other hand, the formal Jew, the Pharisee, looked past the ancient hatred Jews had for Gentiles and Gentiles had for Jews. That’s why he addresses Titus as a “true” child of the faith. In Titus 1:4, Paul addressed his letter, and we read, “To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”

 Calling Titus a true son is Paul’s way of saying that the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been broken down. It has been broken down by the faith they have in common. This faith includes a clear recognition that their standing before God has nothing to do with their own merit or worth. In God’s eyes, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. There is no difference between male and female. There is no difference between the rich and the poor. Therefore, Paul and his Gentile convert both stand on equal footing with the God that made them. One commentary explains this well. “Our ‘common faith’—the recognition that all are in need of a Savior—removes any rationale for judgmentalism and any basis for pride. The need for comparison and competition dies in the recognition that Christ provides our only measure of glory before God. The necessity of Christ’s pardon of us all prompts forgiveness, understanding, and love in the Christian community. Among conscientious Christians, even the barriers of racial prejudice, national hatred, and ancient antipathies wither when the realities of grace blossom. This is evident when the former Pharisee named Paul calls a Gentile named Titus ‘my true son.’”[1]

The Grace that Paul and the rest of the Apostles received from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is the grace that results in peace. The writers of the epistles of the New Testament are very fond of commending grace and peace to the recipients of their letters that it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this. The commentary I quoted above added, “When persons become absolutely convinced that their standing before God is based entirely on his grace and not on any goodness in themselves, peace comes. This peace that Christ’s reconciliation provides is not only the end of antipathy between a rebellious heart and its Creator. Full understanding of grace also provides relief from the constant striving for status and affection that characterizes the natural human state. Assessments of who is more deserving of God’s affection or acclaim go away in the recognition that ‘all … fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). Competition for recognition and regard fades in the realization that all the rewards of grace are unearned. We become equal members of the fellowship of those whose condition is desperate apart from Christ, and this humbling realization is the foundation of Christian harmony.” Just to conclude on the “grace and peace” commendation, notice that they both are attributed from both God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is then described by one word: Savior. Lea says, “The title Savior, used in this letter six times, is applied to God three times and to Jesus three times. Each occurrence of Savior applied to God is closely followed by Savior applied to Jesus. This interchange of such an important New Testament title suggests the mutual role of God and Jesus Christ in redemption, as well as the high Christology found in this letter. The use of the possessive pronoun ‘our’ with ‘Savior’ further demonstrates the ‘common faith’ of Paul and Titus. The cultural and religious barriers between Jew and Greek are dissolved in a common faith characterized by a personal relationship with God as Father that is based upon the redeeming work of the Savior, Jesus Christ.”[2]

[1] Hughes, R. Kent, and Bryan Chapell. 2000. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Lea, Thomas D., and Hayne P. Griffin. 1992. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. Vol. 34. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.